Pratt Center Project

Sustainable Community Development

Building Community Capacity to Shape NYC’s Housing Plan: East New York

Pratt Center equips communities to understand the scope and impact of proposals for their neighborhoods and engage them to define community priorities around housing affordability and density, jobs, infrastructure, public services, environmental quality, and more.

Working with a collaborative of four other technical assistance providers - Hester Street Collaborative, the Community Development Project at Urban Justice Center, Association for Neighborhood Housing Development, Center for Urban Pedagogy -Pratt Center provides planning, mapping, policy analysis, and advocacy assistance to communities targeted for rezoning as part of the goals set out in Housing New York, Mayor de Blasio’s affordable housing plan. We equip communities to understand the scope and impact of proposals for their neighborhoods and engage them to define community priorities around housing affordability and density, jobs, infrastructure, public services, environmental quality, and more. Informed by findings from the community planning process, we support our community partners’ advocacy with the Administration to realize goals for a holistic neighborhood plan and to secure commitments that will shape neighborhood development as rezonings move forward.

East New York is the first neighborhood to be rezoned as part of Mayor de Blasio’s citywide Housing New York plan, whose goal is to create or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing. Since early 2015, Pratt Center has been working on behalf of the Coalition for Community Advancement: Progress for East New York/Cypress Hills, a group of community and civic organizations, small businesses, houses of worship, and local residents who are advocating for a voice in the neighborhood’s future as it’s rezoned to allow for the creation of thousands of new housing units. The Coalition’s goal is for the East New York rezoning to benefit, not displace, existing low and moderate-income households and local businesses and deliver truly affordable housing and sorely needed new and good jobs and community facilities.

Over the spring and summer, Pratt Center worked closely with its technical assistance partners to explore planning and policy recommendations with the Coalition. Findings and recommendations from this process were eventually included in a comprehensive alternative plan that was submitted to the City in August 2015.

Key components of the Coalition’s plan include:

  • Stronger commitments to build more deeply affordable housing
  • Anti-displacement measures for renters, homeowners, and small businesses
  • Special zoning to ensure the creation of schools, child care seats, and other community facilities
  • Local hiring initiatives

Pratt Center also worked with its partner technical assistance organizations to draft a comprehensive response to the rezoning plan’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), which included highlighting the inadequacies in the City’s analysis of the rezoning’s impacts.  Some of the main findings from our review of the DEIS were:

  • The questionable analysis behind the DEIS’s assertion of no significant adverse impact on indirect residential displacement and its assumption of the inevitability of displacement even without the rezoning
  • The dubiousness of asserting that new affordable housing created through Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) and City subsidies will significantly counteract indirect residential displacement
  • The DEIS’s failure to analyze the rezoning’s effects on low-income homeowners and foreclosure rates
  • The inadequate analysis underpinning the DEIS’s finding of no significant adverse impact on business displacement, a conclusion which failed to consider the impact of more upscale retail on rents and overstated the ability of industrial and auto-related businesses to relocate to other industrial zones in the City

As the City’s East New York rezoning proposal makes its way through the public land use review process (known as ULURP) that will culminate in spring 2016, Pratt Center continues to work closely with the Coalition in its advocacy efforts to ensure that the City’s final plan includes the planning and policy tools that will meet the community’s needs, and that the commitments made during the process are realized.